Record-breaking trade for quality Blackface females

S & J Fegan's prize winning ewe lambs
S & J Fegan's prize winning ewe lambs

Castlewellan Blackface Sheep Breeders held their 33th annual sale of Lanark type Blackface sheep in Hilltown on Wednesday, September 16, with an entry of 1,500 quality females and 50 rams and ram lambs.

In a depressing year for sheep farmers when lower prices are the order of the day in the commercial sheep market, there was even more than the usual air of uncertainty in the lead up to the sale but this soon disappeared as the first of the female stock entered the sale ring in front of a packed gallery with a 90% plus clearance of stock.

O&F McKenny's prize winning mule ewe lambs

O&F McKenny's prize winning mule ewe lambs

The prices achieved again reinforced the ever increasing demand for quality Blackface breeding stock, which remains the backbone of the whole sheep industry.

The entry of 300 quality Mule ewe lambs met with good trade with a top price of £122 per head for Walsh Bros first pen followed closely by their third pen at £110 and James McKenny’s third pen also at £110 with others at £105 (twice), £104, £102, £100, £96, £95 and £90 giving an average of £87 exactly the same as last year for 50 more Mules sold. Blackface shearling ewes met with an excellent trade to a top of £190 for S and J Fegan’s first pen followed by lots at £162, £154, £150, £140 (two lots) £142 (three lots), £137, £136, £135 (three lots), £134, £132, £130 with all lots making in excess of £120 per head for the 230 plus shearling ewes on show giving an average of £138 up £10 on last year.

A large entry of ewe lambs also sold well with a top price of £130 per head going to the first pen presented by S and J Fegan closely followed by lots at £118, £100 (two lots), £92, £86, £84, £82, £81 and £80 (two lots) with the 300 ewe lambs averaging £80 exactly the same as last year. Aged ewes were again in great demand throughout with a top price of £120 twice going to Drew Holmes and Denis McCullough with other lots at £110, £108, £107 and £104 with the 380 aged ewes sold averaging £79 the only class showing a reduction of £10 on last year. This year’s sale again had a class for broken mouthed ewes and again the trade was brisk with a top price of £93 per head for ewes from Denis McCullough followed closely by lots at £90, £83, £74, £66 (two lots) and £61 and £60 (three lots) with the 150 plus ewes averaging £68 per head up £4 on last year’s average.

A smaller show of rams and ram lambs met with a slower yet steady trade with Dermot Kelly’s aged ram taking the top price of the day at 340 guineas closely followed by S & J Fegan’s shearling ram at 300 guineas and Frankie McCullough’s ram lamb at 280 guineas.

The sale of breeding females was again very encouraging, reflecting both the excellent quality of the stock and the key role these original and best of all easycare sheep have in farming throughout the country.

Castlewellan Blackface Sheep Breeders would like to thank all the buyers together with sponsors for the event Clanrye Veterinary Clinic and Glens Farms Supplies. A special word of thanks is also due to Sanny Blackwood who came over from Scotland to judge the stock on show, the auctioneer Jimmy Annett and to the staff at Hilltown Saleyard for their continuing help and support in this event.

Show Results

Shearling Rams: 1st, 2nd and 3rd S &J Fegan

Ram Lambs: 1st, Frankie McCullough, 2nd, S & J Fegan, 3rd, Frankie McCullough

Aged Rams: 1st, Denis McCullough, 2nd, S & J Fegan, 3rd, Dermot Kelly

Overall Champion: S & J Fegan Shearling Ram

Reserve: Frankie McCullough Ram Lamb.